Proenza Schouler designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez presented their spring 2014 collection Wednesday afternoon in a raw space on an upper floor in a midtown skyscraper, with floor-to-ceiling windows on the surrounding buildings providing an urban backdrop.
The look: Sophisticated bohemian. These are after all, two designers who admit to loving the whole "West Coast, Topanga Canyon, Michelle Phillips" vibe.
The inspiration: "Understated domesticity," according to the show notes. (In other words, what the artsy crowd would wear to a cool party at a Mid-Century house in L.A.'s chic canyons.) "The mood is serene and polished, juxtaposing hard and soft, technology and craft," according to the show notes.
And per usual with these designers-cum-fabric engineers, the focus was on exploring new techniques.
"We did solid suiting, but after we sewed it up, we screen-printed it to give nuance and a painterly quality to the look, harkening back to the work of Robert Ryman, the painter," McCollough explained backstage. "Also, the silk cloque pleated skirts and dresses were foil printed, so when you open them up, it creates a graphic quality," he said.
Key pieces: Clean suiting with an emphasis on a new proportion, pairing a longer line sleeveless jacket with cropped, wide-leg pants, and thick wood platform huarache sandals, for example. A sleeveless black tissue-weight suede dress was embellished with nothing more than subtle metal fastenings at the front. And a black pants suit (a blazer paired with cropped wide-leg pants) was screen-printed with painterly ecru "seams." A black pleated silk cloque cross-front midriff top, worn with a black, ivory and silver foil printed pleated long skirt was clean and modern-looking, but glam, as were metallic, micro-pleated silk knit dresses. Fringey clutches and a shaggy woven coat added a craftsy note.
The verdict: A laser-sharp vision. These American classics are in league with the designs of Calvin Klein and Halston. They may be pared down and modern, but they have a story to tell, namely the extraordinary technique behind each piece.